Interview with Matt Tuck of Bullet For My Valentine: Scarlet Fever, The Epidemic

Hailing from the United Kingdom with meager beginnings, not too unlike founding fathers Black Sabbath themselves, Bullet For My Valentine eradicate the mundane formulas and shake the insincerity out of the status quo. Matt Tuck’s voice is the Devil’s whistle tone and together with the forked, speed-driven campaign of his rhythm guitar, Michael Paget’s lead guitar, Jason James’ bass and Michael Thomas on drums, BFMV are raising themselves to the same caliber of distinction as Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage and Pantera.

Their third effort, Fever, testifies that digging deep into the mines of metal still produces sterling results. “Your Betrayal” is an instant powder keg that gets its fuse ignited by a stick of dynamite, and “Pleasure And Pain” scorches and claws at the skin like the unforgiving desert sun, while contrastingly “A Place Where You Belong” deviates with its plush mourning. Overall, Bullet For My Valentine’s masterful demonstration of their craft and Matt’s lyrical delivery makes Fever personal and instantly fetches the imagination. The band has well-penetrated the charts with their previous releases, The Poison and Scream Aim Fire, and has toured with Metallica and Iron Maiden, and will surely force the Bamboozle crowd into submission.

You have such a distinctive, well-shaped sound. You instantly know it’s Bullet. Was that your main objective this time around?

Matt Tuck: No, our biggest objective was to make a great sounding album. To be a 100 percent what we are. I think that’s why you’re picking up on the fact that it’s so instantly recognizable that it’s us. We just wrote like we did in The Poison days, we loved it, and we weren’t trying to please anyone else but ourselves. So the main objective was to just be happy with what we’ve written, and not try to prove anything to anyone else anymore. We just have to play music, and do what we do.

You’ve obviously had a lot of success and popularity, so does that push even more into that mindset, sort of giving you that extra confidence?

Yeah, I think so with the number of sales that we’ve had and the experience, and the sheer number of shows over the last six years. We’ve done the hard work now, we’ve cemented ourselves in the music world and we’re very comfortable with what we do and who we are. We’ve kind of proven ourselves. We’re a good band, and we’re capable of big things as long as we keep working hard and keep doing what we do. Having the experience that we’ve had over the last six years has definitely cemented the belief in ourselves, and we’ve been just as hungry as we’ve ever been. The more success we get, the more we want. I don’t think that will ever go away.

How has the success affected you personally, like on a day-to-day basis?

It hasn’t affected me personally at all. Me and the boys still live in Wales, we haven’t moved out anywhere and done the rock star thing, you know move to L.A. or anything like that. We are the exactly the same people we’ve always been, we just get to make a career out of something we love and we got some money from that. We get to have quite a nice lifestyle because of it. That’s the only thing that has changed with us really, having a great job and the opportunity to have nice things and not having to struggle anymore like we did before we got signed. We didn’t have anything, we were losing jobs, we were broke, I was in debt up to my eyeballs, so the only thing that has changed is financial security and a lifestyle thing, but we are still the same people that we were, we are just fortunate to have a job doing something that we totally adore.

It’s very professional and insightful of you to have that perspective. People that don’t have that seem to lose their success as quickly as it came.

Yeah, but we’ve had a very working class upbringing being from Wales, we didn’t have a lot growing up. We had to work really hard for any recognition at all before the band got signed. It’s kind of the way we were brought up by our parents and where we are from that we are very hard working, down-to-earth people anyway. Since we got signed, we’ve become even more hard working and humble, so we are not taking it for granted. We are extremely thankful that we’ve been given the opportunity and we are just trying to hold onto it, really.

To shift gears a bit, you guys are the heaviest band on Bamboozle Festival this year. Is that why you signed on, to just blow everyone out of the water?

Yeah, but that’s not the only reason why we signed on. We signed on because it seems like a good time, and we’ve never done it before and it seemed like a good opportunity, like all festivals are to play in front of people that aren’t your fans for a change. It’s a great opportunity to play in front of people who wouldn’t normally come to see you or give a shit, but the at same time, it’s kind of nice to be the black sheep of all the bunch by being the heaviest or more alternative or weirdest, that way you do stand out and you do make an impact. That was the reason for us doing Warped three years ago, it was because we were by far the heaviest act on there, and it certainly worked to our advantage.

The band is so authentically metal, is there any artist or style of music that you’re into that may surprise people?

I‘m very much a rock metal guy, and always will be, but something that people wouldn’t expect is that I am into songwriters and musicians rather than like computers and ProTools and keyboards. I just really can’t get my head around why people would do that. It’s not really a creative idea, anyone could do it, operating an instrument and just putting a pre-made thing together. I just don’t like it. I am really into Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, Bob Dylan and just proper old school songwriters, which I didn’t hate growing up, but that’s what my dad used to listen too. I never really appreciated it, because I just didn’t care as a kid. Now I’ve grown up, and I appreciate songwriting and the storytelling behind it and the performance part. Those artists are by far the best on the planet, and they don’t influence me as such, but they just open my eyes to the possibilities of what could happen and how real your life could be in a song, and how heartfelt it can be.

You can definitely see the storytelling portion in your music. Each song can be its own mini movie.

It’s definitely something I really try hard to capture, a lot of the stuff I write about starts out as real life happenings and situations, but I have to exaggerate. I feel like after the first verse is done, I get stuck and I need to really go to town and not Hollywood it up, but like you said, I need to be really colorful with it. That’s what I’ve always done really, and I feel like people really like that. It gets their brain thinking about the lyrics, which I think is awesome.

Totally, ‘A Place Where You Belong’ feels like a ‘see you on the other side’ theme.

Yeah, that’s definitely the thinking behind the song. It was an idea which I was thinking about last June, me and my girlfriend had separated for a month and now we are back together now. We just had a child recently, which is cool, but the way it ended for that month was kind of bad. I was kind of a douchebag and it ended a completely wrong way and I wasn’t a gentleman about it. I will always regret that, and it just got me thinking that life is too short, and I’d never be able to forgive myself if something had happened to her during that month. So I just started to write about that, but it wasn’t powerful enough, so I had to take it to an extreme where people go, ‘Fuck, those lyrics are really dark.’ The song was influenced by that scenario and I just had to take it off somewhere to make it really, really powerful.

Is this your first child?

Yeah, this is my first one. He’s awesome.

It’s going to be hard for you to go on tour.

I am trying not to think about it right now, because I don’t know how I am going to react. I’d never done it before, but I can’t see it being a happy day. Even though, it’s going to be exciting, we get on plane and go to the United States, and play live every night, which is awesome and what we love; having a kid has totally turned my life upside down a little bit. It’s going to be a day of very mixed emotions, but it’s going to be something I have to do. I am not the only guy that has to do it, other musicians, policemen, soldiers, so I am not the only one.

Before you know it, he’ll get big enough to go out with you.

Yeah hopefully, the band will get bigger and more successful and we get to dictate more of the travel and if it’s possible, I would like to take him on the road a little bit. Especially, while he’s young and introduce him to the lifestyle, which I would have loved when I was a little kid.

‘Dignity’ is another awesome song on the record, it just speaks to the moral core in all of us.

The song is about dignity and pride, and standing up for what you believe in and not letting anyone put you down. I have to put up with people who don’t know me, but think they do, and I have to put up with criticism just for the sake of people who don’t like the music, but that’s cool. That’s who I am, that’s what I do. Fuck you, that’s what the song is about. I am not going to change who I am or what I do. I would rather die with dignity than bow down to you, it’s kind of sad, but it comes with the territory of being in a rock band.

What’s been one of those moments for you that have let you know you have arrived?

My God, I could speak to you for about five hours. We’ve done amazing things since day one, somehow we’ve done something right and the stars have aligned for us. Getting a record deal is the biggest achievement and highlight of our life. Not even of our career, but our life. We worked so hard to accomplish with no guarantee of even getting anywhere near a record deal, so achieving that is the biggest highlight of our lives. That and playing with and touring with idols that made me want to pick up a guitar in the first place, especially for me was [James] Hetfield and Metallica. To jam with them onstage and get to know them and get drunk—it’s something that doesn’t even register and it’s so untouchable, it just doesn’t compute in my brain. Being on tour with Iron Maiden and now this year, with the new album ready to drop and what we can accomplish in this year-and-a-half, I’d say we’ve got the most exciting times to come yet as well. So I don’t know, the world is our oyster.

Catch BFMV at the Bamboozle Festival at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in E. Rutherford, NJ, on May 1.